KONG – SKULL ISLAND

“John C. Reilly… Half Biggles, half Monty Python’s guardian of the juniper berry bushes…”

Wayward Wolf Film Review.

 

What exactly are the key components of a big money-making, blockbuster film?

Stick to a well-worn, tried and tested formula? Tick. Make it larger than life with every emphasis on special effects over a cleverly-crafted narrative? Tick. Explosions, explosions, and shed-loads of them?! Tick. The list goes on and it reads like an accountant’s check-list – to borrow a Mark Kermode-ism, if I may.

Talking of big money blockbusters… Pounding his barrel chest in the furriest of fury, everyone’s favourite, easily-irked ape returns to the big screen once again, administering a plethora of simian beat-downs to those unfortunate or unwise enough to incur his wrath.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts has hold of the directorial reins for this latest slice of over-sized monkey mayhem, positioning Kong as the king of all he surveys on some hugely hazardous undiscovered island tucked away in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in the southern hemisphere.

To all intents and purposes, Kong: Skull Island is ludicrous from start to finish, yet admittedly great fun for those that have no problem depositing their grey matter at the door, in advance.

Political agendas, lesser-known conspiracy theories, and very obvious Hollywood licence have all been taken and fused together with the same sort of care and attention that one might expect from the YTS kid on day one, creating a mad mish-mash identity crisis of a film which struggles to come across as anything like a coherent whole.

No matter, if it’s hugely impressive special effects that you crave, together with explosions, monster fights and a fair share of giant entities that will make your skin crawl, you’ve come to the right place.

Set in the immediate post-Vietnam war era, scientists Bill Randa (John Goodman), and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins), have for many years been labelled ‘whack-jobs’ for their obdurate stance pertaining to an insistence that there are as yet undiscovered giant beings walking this earth, on as yet unchartered lands. Somehow the pair manage to convince the powers that be to provide them with a post-communist-bashing military chaperone for their investigative party, to aid them in their attempts to justify their apparently outlandish claims.

Team assembled and prepped to go, they set off on the craziest of kamikaze escapades. But regardless of the scale of the danger that’s set to confront Randa and Brooks’ expedition, as ever, it is man who will prove to be his own worst enemy.

This is no Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park or Apocalypse Now, though it clearly draws a hint of inspiration from each. What it is however, is a fun romp that positively hurls everything into the mixer, absolutely insists that we suspend our disbelief for a couple of hours, and hopes above all hope that some of this fairly poorly thought out carnage actually sticks – which in fairness, it does… to an extent.

Whether he’s swatting helicopters from the sky or wrestling the lizard creatures that inhabit the dark recesses of hollow, inner earth – there’s that conspiracy theory – Kong, the last of his line, is a totally preposterous yet impressively realised creature here, inexplicably roaming and policing the rugged terrain of his ancestral kingdom.

Samuel L. Jackson is well cast as the career military man only too glad to accept Randa’s assignment, kicking his heels as he is, now that the Vietnam war is over. John Goodman as ever gets a bit part role which only succeeds in underselling his considerable acting ability. Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston are both decent enough as the fresh-faced war photographer / journalist and expedition leader, respectively. And then there’s John C.Reilly’s vaguely amusing character, Hank Marlow. Half Biggles, half Monty Python’s guardian of the juniper berry bushes, he’s been stranded on Skull Island since World War II, and let’s face it, he’s had enough.

It’s all cobbled-together, disjointed nonsense, but strangely likeable nonsense nonetheless, and if like me you’re bullheaded enough to see those closing credits out to the bitter end, there’s an inevitable little extra ‘something’ ham-fistedly bolted on, which, like the rest of the film, will be of no surprise whatsoever.

Franchise-worthy? Tick.

Hmm.

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